Galactic Quest, the 2021 National STEM Challenge

September 24, 2021

For the last fourteen years, 4-H has created a fun, hands-on STEM challenge for youth in upper elementary or middle school. For the last five years, the challenges were released in both English and Spanish.

The 2021 STEM Challenge, Galactic Quest, explores the history of humans in space, the technology and resources needed for missions, and the obstacles humans encounter in orbit. Youth will learn foundational STEM skills while they wrestle with the same questions as today’s top aerospace scientists and engineers! The four activities can be done all at once or individually, making it great for learning in afterschool programs, clubs, classrooms, or at home.

Let’s take a quick trip through the Galactic Quest. Astro Adventure is a board game for up to six players! As players gather the resources needed to live and work in deep space, they also practice teamwork. Players learn about the U.S. Space Force, collect water from the rings of Saturn, or lose propellent as they navigate through a field of asteroids.

Comic Claw lets learners use the engineering design process to design, build and operate a hydraulic powered robotic arm and gripper. They also learn about the role of robots in agriculture on earth and how critical they will be when humans are growing food in space.

Cipher Space is a hands-on way to build excitement about computer science – data, encryption and cybersecurity – without using computers. It is a game, or even a relay race, where learners use a cipher to decode encrypted messages sent between imaginary satellites in order to save them from hackers. Bonus: you even get to learn a little about the United States Space Force in this activity.

Stellar Optics guides learners through building their own telescope and learning about physics and light and how telescopes have been used to explore space. The constellation cards even let you experience viewing the stars in our galaxy without going outside.

You can download the curriculum in English or Spanish for free, or purchase the Galactic Quest kits with the cool supplies pictured here and much more. You’ll find the kit includes everything you need for all the activities except for things like pencils, a glass of water, or a screwdriver. You can choose between a family kit with supplies for up to four learners or an educator kit with supplies for twelve. You’ll love how the facilitator guide walks you through each activity, and if you are looking for more tips on organizing the learning or getting started with computer science, you can visit

Click2ComputerScience is a new way to think about teaching computer science. At, you can watch videos, participate in hands-on activities, and then practice the skill with youth.


Saundra Wever Frerichs, Science Education Specialist, Click2SciencePD

“My work – tightly focused on informal science education – has included efforts with 4-H and other youth development organizations and museums in the US and UK. In the area of developing resources for learning, my work has included museum-based programs for youth, adults, and educators; science learning kits; museum gallery exhibits and traveling exhibits; youth curricula; and educator professional development.”